Daniel McCusker spent six years dancing with arch-formalist Lucinda Childs before leaving her company last year to choreograph his own work. Evidence of Childs' influence on McCusker is apparent in the rigorous crafting of his dances; yet rigorousness is hardly the point. The point, indeed, is the overwhelming sensuousness of the moving body. With this approach McCusker has scored a coup in these times when feeling and form usually are seen as an either/or proposition.
McCusker's work had its Washington debut this weekend on the program of the Student/Faculty Dance Concert at George Washington University, where the New York-based McCusker has been a guest artist.
The choreographer was joined by Katie McCarthy, a member of McCusker's company and GWU alumna, for "Composite," a duet adaptation of a number of group dances choreographed this year and last. "Composite" is one of those works so kinesthetically seductive that they makes the viewer ache to dance along. The movement is the embodiment of liquidity -- a series of lush meldings and meltings that nevertheless manages to retain a sharply focused spatial presence. The dancers' bodies seemed to have no limits, with the air as supportive as the ground and the ground as liberating as the air.
Just how superb a performance was rendered by McCusker and McCarthy was attested by the performance problems of "Place," which was given its world premiere by GWU students. Set to Bartok's "For Children," "Place" presented the world of children as a structured community with its own ceremonies, games and rules, reminiscent of Truffaut's "Small Change." Unfortunately, the shortness of McCusker's residency at GWU and the dancers' inexperience combined for a performance flattened of nuance and sensitivity. McCusker will, however, be staging "Place" with his own company, an event to be watched with interest.